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Three new species of bat in Vietnam - Including a 'demon bat'

08/09/2011 13:06:45

'Beelzebub' bat -New species discovered in Indochina

September 2011: Three new bat species have been discovered in southern Indochina, after research by an international team of scientists led the Hungarian Natural History Museum (HNHM) and Fauna & Flora International(FFI).


NEW SPECIES: Beelzebub's tube-nosed bat

Nocturnal and secretive, bats are often overlooked components of tropical diversity. The study, commissioned to address this lack of knowledge, has turned up three new bat species. Among these is the aptly named Beelzebub's tube-nosed bat, a diminutive but demonic-looking creature from Vietnam.

Dr Gabor Csorba of HNHM says: ‘We chose the name Beelzebub to reflect the dark "diabolic" colouration of the new species and its fierce protective behaviour in the field."

Very vulnerable to deforestation
‘As with Beelzebub's, the other two new species belong to a distinctive group known as tube-nosed bats,' said Dr Neil Furey of FFI. ‘These species are highly adapted to forest environments, a fact which renders them especially vulnerable to ongoing deforestation in the region.'

Surrounded by myth and facing a litany of threats, scientists are currently racing to document the poorly known bat fauna of the region. ‘Though bats already represent nearly a third of SE Asian mammals, recent genetic research suggests that the true number of species in the region may be twice that presently known,' noted Professor Paul Racey, FFI Vice Chairman and IUCN Bat Specialist Group representative.

‘Discovering these new species, while exciting, really represents just the beginning,' added Dr Furey.

‘We know very little about the ecology of the group and the effects of forest degradation in particular, though some species are relatively common in secondary forest and roost in banana, a classic feature of such forests.'

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

I couldn't agree more. I realise that, in the field, such names (and many expletives) are often given to angsty creatures while in the hand but afterwards, on reflection, negative names are avoided. This is especially important in the case of bats as they've suffered decades of negative press which is only slowly being reversed through further knowledge of these animals and education of the public. It would be bad enough if it were just the common name that was negative but giving the species the scientific name of Murina beelzebub does no justice to it or bats in general. How could the public be expected to support a conservation effort to save an animal with such a name? To put it in perspective, imagine trying to garner public funding to conserve the panda if it were named after Adolf Hitler or the blue whale if it were named bin Laden's whale?

Posted by: Conor Kelleher | 09 Sep 2011 17:43:54

stereotyping bats

I think the naming of the bat with satanic connotations risks reinforcing negative stereotypes. This is all the more regrettable when the naming of a bat can actually raise significant amounts of money.

Posted by: John A Burton | 09 Sep 2011 14:52:31

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